Such prayer, of course, is simply prayer for an experience of the Holy Spirit. Now, I know that any talk of experiencing the Holy Spirit makes some Christians nervous, but I firmly believe that God wants us to experience the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. He is “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9). For the Christian, the Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). So, prayer for an experience of the Holy Spirit is prayer for Christ’s active working in and through our lives. Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In saying this, He was reminding us that we cannot accomplish anything of eternal significance apart from the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Christ—working in and through us.
It seems that many Christians have a complacent attitude toward the Holy Spirit. We believe the Holy Spirit came to the Church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), and we believe the Holy Spirit came into our lives when we trusted Christ, but what about our experience of the Holy Spirit in the here and now?
Did you know that our Lord Jesus encourages us to pray for the Holy Spirit? It’s recorded in Luke 11:5-13:
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Prayer for the Holy Spirit will move our Pneumatology out the realm of the merely academic into the realm of the experiential and practical, and will move us from complacency to being vibrant witnesses to the risen Christ.